3 Ministry Lessons I Learned from my “Nanny”

There are no words that can describe how it feels when someone close to you passes away. One second it feels like you have forgotten how to breath. The next, you are thinking of treasured memories you shared with that person. There is laughter, heartbreak, joy, sadness, and somehow you fill both lost and filled with hope at the same time.

This past week, I lost someone very special to me, my grandmother. I am from the south, and around here we all come up with names for our grand parents. In my family, we referred to my grandmother as “Nanny.” Nanny was a character so say the least. She was full of life, a little crazy, and loved every one like they were family.

I have spent a lot of time this week reflecting over Nanny’s life and thanking Jesus that I got to know her and be apart of her life for 24 years. She lived a full life, had a family that loved her, and followed Jesus faithfully her entire life. This morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the lessons that I wanted to learn from her life and apply to mine. More specifically, my ministry. So, with a good cup of coffee, I began to write in my journal the lessons from her life that she taught me and didn’t even know it

1. Relationships Matter

After her funeral, I got to speak to a lot of people. I had heard my grandmother speak of some of them, but others I had never heard of before. The people ranged from the people that cut her lawn, neighbors, distant family, to people that I honestly don’t know how my grandmother knew them. What brought joy to my heart was listening to these people all talk about Nanny like she was a part of their family. She meant so much to each and everyone of these people. They all had heart warming stories of my grandmother. She took advantage of her life.

She made so much of an impact on so many people’s lives simply by being willing to be a part of it. Relationships with people are the only way in which you can really carry any influence at all with them.

Some people have a problem with the message translation of the bible, some of which I understand. However, I believe that the way romans 14 is worded here is very profound.

“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with — even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.”

This passage of scripture to me emphasises the importance of relationship with people in ministry. Everyone is at different phases in there life and in their spiritual walk, but relationship is the main way that one can speak real wisdom into someone's life

2. “Selfless” is an Amazing Legacy to Leave

As I think back over my life, I honestly can’t remember one time where Nanny put her needs before anybody else. It’s almost as if she viewed her life as one big opportunity to serve as many people as she could. And she took advantage of that. She learned it from a really early age. She lost her mother when she was 4 years old and basically raised her younger sister. She never got the chance to be selfish. Toward the end of her life, she was getting rushed into an emergency surgery while me and my wife were visiting her. The doctors and nurses were trying to rush her to surgery all she wanted to talk about was how she could help me be a better husband to my wife. That is a memory I will have for the rest of my life.

When I look at my life, I see a person that is constantly choosing himself over other people. My one prayer from all of this is that Jesus would replace my selfishness with selflessness. Nobody remembers selfish people, those are a dime a dozen.

3. Sanctification Doesn’t Happen Overnight

My grandmother, if you haven’t gathered it that this point, had a heart that reflected Jesus as well as anyone I had ever met. One thing, my grandmother and I would always do is talk about the Bible. She loved the Bible. She read it cover to cover many times throughout the course of her life. Her wisdom always astounded me. Even in her latter years when her mind started to fade, she could always blow me away with how much of the bible she knew. More than that, it always astounded me how much people saw Jesus in her.

Anytime I would ever ask her how she did it, she would always replay with the same thing. “It didn’t happen overnight.”

Hebrews 10:14 says “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

Jesus, in an instant, can change our soul. But the sanctifying work of Jesus happens in his time, not ours.

It is my hope and prayer that one day I can be half of the follower of Jesus that Nanny was. I will miss her but I will never be able to express how thankful I am for the example that she set for me.